13 April, 2013

Life, and its prices

I was watching the news tonight.  I'd been at a stressful meeting all day, and was feeling emotional.  And then there was this item on a news programme.   A woman was appealing for help to find a house that could be rented by her children.  (Note:  She is living in Christchurch, where rental properties are now scarce, following the earthquake.)  Her sons are in their fifties, but both are intellectually impaired, with the mental age of toddlers.  This poor lady, so well spoken and so loving, needed to find a house for them to live in, after they have to evacuate their current property for it to undergo earthquake repairs.  Sadly, she felt that she had been turned down by landlords once they became aware of the condition of the two brothers.

They have full-time around-the-clock care, but still this woman was the main person in their lives, their caregiver, their protector and protector.  She's probably about my mother's age, and she talked about how it was her duty to look after them.  From the moment they were diagnosed, she shrugged, she knew it was her duty to do the best by these boys.  "That's what we do, when we decide to have children."  The two brothers were looking at her, and her husband (not the men's biological father, but certainly their "real" one as he had been with them since they were little), with such love and adoration.

Okay, by now I was in tears.  This wonderful woman had done everything for her sons.  She had no choice, but she was still doing everything.  But neither she nor her husband are young anymore, and she won't be able to be their protector and defender for ever.  Not only will she not have the support of her sons when she needs it, but she will have the worry about how they will go on.  I was in tears at the thought of how these men will cope and deal with the loss of their mother, whether now or in 20 years.

A friend (who also is unable to have children) said to me last year, when a New Zealand couple lost their IVF-conceived triplets in a mall fire in Qatar, "what we went through wasn't as bad as what those parents are dealing with."  I wasn't prepared to get involved in a "pain olympics" kind of discussion, but  acknowledged their terrible terrible loss. But last night, watching that item of the woman and her sons, I knew that I felt luckier than her.  Yes, she loved her sons.  Yes, she has no doubt had many happy times with them.  But the price she has paid for that.  Oh, the price ...


  1. Oh, I saw the advert for that and couldn't bring myself to watch it. Those are the kinds of people that really need community and government support, rather than all of these useless blighters breeding on the DPB. Since I didn't watch it I don't know, but I hope that there is some family there (cousins etc) that can help these men when/if their parents die. My great aunt had an intellectually impaired daughter, and while it was a bit of a relief when her daughter died before she did, it was still too late for Great Aunt to have a free life of her own. That is relief in the sense that the worry of who would take care of daughter if Great Aunt died was over, not relief that she died, if that makes sense.

    And I have to admit, I see some of these people who have children with awful, awful problems, and I think, yes, I would rather be childless than have to go through what they go through. Not that these people would ever regret having their children, I'm sure.

  2. I googled it and found a photo of two autistic brothers. They have a beautiful smile!

    It must be sad for their mother. How afraid must she be of getting older, ill, dying & leaving her two sons.

  3. Several years ago, there was a story here in the States about a woman who was looking for someone to "adopt" her fifty-something year old son. She was getting old and had several health conditions and wanted to make sure there was someone who would watch out for him when she no longer could. It broke my heart. I have a few friends, who, once they became mothers, became very concerned about the plight of children. I've always been concerned about older adults who might not have the care and support they need.

  4. Reading this made ame a puddle of tears.
    I hope that someone can help them out...and she has one less thing to worry about for now.

  5. I know you do what you have to do... but yes, that must be so hard -- and what's going to happen to those children when the parents are gone??

    Before dh, in university, I went out with a guy who had two younger brothers... and a younger sister who had severe cerebral palsy and lived in a care home. He had mentioned to me that he had a sister but didn't talk much about her... and then one night he said to me, "Can I tell you about my sister?" & he cried as he did. I later met one of his brother's girlfriends, and she asked me if he had talked about the sister. She said, "I think it really weighs on him, because he knows he'll be responsible for her after his parents are gone."

  6. I've also heard a similar story about a grandpa in Indo from a friend of mine. This grandpa is my friend's neighbour and he lives with his daughter and son and a teenage granddaughter (the daughter's daughter). Unfortunately the daughter has had mental problems after the marriage failed and the son has had mental problems since a younger age, I suppose. The son is more docile, so he's no harm to society, but the daughter can be really aggressive if she hasn't taken her medication. The problem is that sometimes she has to go without med because the grandpa isn't rich (there's no good social support system in Indo). One time this daughter tries to hit my friend for no particular reason than eye contact.

    The grandpa has had to deal with the neighbours many times (apologizing for the daughter's behaviour) and I just can't imagine how tough he has it going for him...as well as for the young granddaughter. If the grandpa passes away, the granddaughter will have to deal with her mother and uncle? I just hope when the time comes she'll get some help.

    But you're right...when it comes to life, sometimes the prices some people have to pay seem very steep indeed...